After being thrashed by India in only their second World Cup game, Australia would be feeling the heat amid the England showers. They’ve historically gotten the better of India in World Cups but were no match to a revitalised Team India on Sunday. However, it is still too early in the tournament for Aaron Finch and co. to overthink. They’ve got 6 more matches to play and a positive Net Run Rate. But even then, Australia must remember that the weather gods are not the most cooperative at this stage of the competition. They should be looking to get as many early wins as possible.
Pakistan were astonishingly good against hosts England after West Indies embarrassed them in their opening match. But inclement rains robbed them of both, momentum and a potential victory against a relatively weaker Sri Lanka. They’ll take that one point with a pinch of salt and look forward to challenging a vulnerable Aussie side. That is if the rains don’t play spoilsport for the third consecutive day.
Australia vs Pakistan, 17th match
The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton
Australia and Pakistan go long way in World Cup encounters, with both teams bringing out the best in each other. On the 9 occasions they have met since the 1975 World Cup, the Aussies have a slight edge with 5 wins. Pakistan would be desperate to equal that number and also climb up the points table in a rain-affected tournament.
Marcus Stoinis has been ruled out of this game, which means Australia will face a bowling/all-rounder selection dilemma considering they bat deep. With Shaun Marsh the only reserve batsman, they will have to bring in one of Jason Behrendorff and Kane Richardson. Nathan Coulter-Nile is likely to keep his place after his batting heroics against the West Indies. Australia would be also concerned about the kind of starts they’re getting, especially David Warner who looks a bit patchy through his innings.
Probable XI: D Warner, A Finch (c), U Khawaja, S Smith, G Maxwell, A Carey (wk), N Coulter-Nile, P Cummins, M Starc, K Richardson, A Zampa
For a change, the Pakistan team looks far more balanced than their opponents. Their top order is coming good, and their bowling has found the rhythm thanks to Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir. They will need to continue working hard against the five-time champions and get rid of any complacency. An unchanged XI is expected to play at Taunton.
Probable XI: Imam-ul-Haq, F Zaman, B Azam, M Hafeez, S Malik, S Ahmed (c & wk), A Ali, S Khan, H Ali, W Riaz, M Amir
David Warner (Australia): Australia relies heavily on Warner’s explosive starts at the top. Against Pakistan since 2015, he has scored 367 runs in just 5 innings at an average of 73.4. If Warner gets going, Pakistan will have their task cut out.
Babar Azam (Pakistan): Since the 2015 World Cup, Babar Azam has scored 282 runs in 5 innings against Pakistan at an average of 56.4. Australia will need a solid plan to get him out early.